Around the WorldArtificial intelligence: an invitation to embrace digital humanism

Artificial intelligence: an invitation to embrace digital humanism

Pope Francis has highlighted the wonder of human intelligence reflected in technological advancement. However, he warns of possible ethical risks. How can we as communicators confront these challenges?

Come with me on a journey through the past, present, and future. 1990: I open the refrigerator, notice were are out of cheese, and make a note to go to the supermarket. 2011: One of my apps on my cellphone sends me a notification reminding me the cheese is about to run out, so I schedule the purchase. 2024: The day before the cheese runs out, my smart refrigerator automatically places an order with my preferred supermarket, ensuring my beloved cheese arrives in time.

The above is the transition we are experiencing as humanity. From manual, step-by-step processes that cannot be tracked and take a long time, we have progressed to automated, instantaneous actions triggered by patterns and fed by huge volumes of data. In the abstract, the latter sounds fantastic, but this qualitative leap can lead to serious ethical dilemmas: safety or danger, respect or dishonor, life or death. Evolution or regression? Like all things in life, it depends. Mindful of this, in early 2024, Pope Francis sent a message emphasizing the marvel of human intelligence as seen in technological advancements while simultaneously warning us of possible deviations with implications for people’s lives, privacy, and dignity. The Holy Father was thus emphatic in advocating for the use of artificial intelligence for peace.

How can we as communicators support this challenge?

I propose the following “4 A’s” for communicators in response to artificial intelligence:

1. Acquire (knowledge). As communicators, we are the first to be called to face fear. The capacity for wonder moves us, novelty inspires us, uncertainty summons us. Let us be the first to enlist to try a new technology and savor it, tame it, enrich ourselves, and grow with it. We are its natural allies.

2. Apply. We are seduced by the passion for telling a good story. Communicators understand how to decode the public’s emotions so as to relate to them. We generate content that unlocks fears, manages frustrations, and appeals to intrinsic motivations. Empathy, we are here to connect to others.

3. Analyze. We stay one step ahead of the game. As communicators, we must guide. We know that information is not neutral, that it has the power to influence the public agenda, highlight or diminish an individual, and bring attention to or make a position invisible. We are influenced.

4. Act. We encourage through action. Our commitment is to the field, not the desk. It is impossible to simply decode a technology and then not use it to share validated, rigorous, balanced information. Let us be authentic managers of a narrative of peace.

Artificial intelligence brings countless benefits and no fewer number of challenges. Let us approach them from a digital humanism perspective. This means recognizing the person behind the technology and contributing valuable content that nurtures hope. We are here to fearlessly manage risk, not run away from it.

In this context, we should be clear about what the real dilemma is. This comes to us as hard dose of reality, as indicated by Harvard Business Review in August 2023: “AI is not going to replace humans, but humans with AI are going to replace humans without AI.” Are you up for the challenge?

By Albertina Navas.

PhD in Communication, MBA, and journalist. She has over 24 years of experience serving 50 clients from 20 countries in the public, private, and academic sectors. She represents Latin America at the global digital communication discussion table of the World Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS). She acted as a facilitator for the course for young Catholic leaders, Faith Communication in the Digital World, from the Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See. She served as leader of Marketing and Digital Platforms for the Episcopal Conference of Latin American (CELAM) and currently serves as director of strategic communication at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.


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